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Position Previews: Wide receivers

Can the wide receivers take it to the next level in 2023?

NCAA Football: Cheez-It Bowl-Oklahoma at Florida State Rich Storry-USA TODAY Sports

As the start of the 2023 football season inches closer and closer for the Florida State Seminoles, we’ll be breaking down each position group. We’ll provide the names to know at each position and break down the depth chart.

It wasn’t so long ago when talking about the FSU wide receiver corps felt like more of a punishment than a point of pride. Questions surrounded coach Ron Dugans. Dropped passes in crucial moments were an expectation and enthusiasm about the unit just didn’t exist.

What a difference a year makes.

In 2022, Florida State wide receivers were a team strength. QB Jordan Travis enjoyed a deeper and more talented unit than in previous seasons. The wide receivers and tight ends tied a school record last season with 12 different players catching at least one touchdown pass in a season.

Heading into 2023, the Seminoles boast a WR corps that is top five nationally (personally, I’d rank them second behind only Ohio State). FSU returns 70.2 percent of its 2022 receiving yards and 71.4 percent of its receiving touchdowns. Ontaria “Pokey” Wilson is off to the NFL and Malik McClain and Mycah Pittman transferred to the Penn State Nittany Lions and Utah Utes, respectively. Otherwise, every contributing WR is coming back alongside some significant new additions.

Let’s take a look at the 2023 FSU wide receivers.

Florida State Seminoles football: Wide receivers

2022 stats

3,512 yards, 28 touchdowns

PFF Grade

  • Receiving grade: 64.4 (No. 6 in the country)

Main name to know

R-Jr. Johnny Wilson

Wilson came to FSU as an under-the-radar transfer from Arizona State with only 18 catches over two seasons. Issues with dropping the ball and route running plagued him in Tempe and though they were still present in Tallahassee, Wilson made strides in his consistency as the season progressed.

Wilson exploded on the scene and finished the season as FSU’s undisputed #1 wideout. He was also one of the most dangerous big-play threats in the nation, hauling in 43 catches for 897 yards and five touchdowns. He ranked third in the nation with 22 20+ yard receptions and fifth nationally with an average of 20.86 ypc. Wilson finished 2022 on a high note with a career-high eight grabs for 202 yards in FSU’s Cheez-It Bowl victory over the Oklahoma Sooners, setting the all-time WR yardage record for both FSU and that bowl game.

With a year under his belt and an excellent rapport with QB Jordan Travis, Wilson will look to build on those numbers in 2023. His imposing presence alone will also create major one-on-one opportunities for other Seminole pass-catchers.

Returning players

  • R-Jr. Kentron Poitier

Perhaps the most likely returning Seminole WR primed for a breakout season, Poitier flashed his potential last season with 14 catches for 283 yards and four touchdowns. Over half of that production came against inferior competition, but Poitier showed more consistency in body control on contested catches and improved route running as the season progressed.

The 6’3” Poitier is formidable downfield and can be a strong blocker when engaged. He’s primed for a larger role this season and will fight for more reps in a stacked WR corps. He is likely to benefit from such opportunities when opposing defenses key on Johnny Wilson and/or Keon Coleman.

  • R-Jr. Ja’Khi Douglas

Douglas overcame a preseason injury to appear in the final seven games of 2022, making 10 receptions for 123 yards and two touchdowns as he was reintegrated into the offense. He also had an eight-yard rush. In 2021, Douglas registered 357 all-purpose yards with 255 yards and one touchdown on 14 receptions, 96 yards on six kickoff returns, and six rushing yards.

Douglas appears fully healthy heading into 2023 and will be a fun gadget player for the staff to work with. He’ll look to get the ball in space and create magic more often this season.

  • R-Jr. Darion Williamson

Williamson has battled several ailments during his time in Tallahassee. He was enjoying a good start to 2022, even leading the team with five catches for 98 yards in the Boston College victory, before being injured and missing the rest of the regular season.

If Williamson can stay healthy, he has the potential to find plenty of playing time. Another 6’3”, willing (and talented) blocker is always welcome in this system, and Williamson has shown good chemistry with Jordan Travis in the past.

  • R-Jr. Deuce Spann

Spann’s first season in garnet and gold went largely as expected, with the 6’4” speedster learning the finer points of the WR position in real time. He finished with eight grabs for 64 yards and 28 rushing yards on five attempts as the coaches found him opportunities in the rotation.

Spann is still raw in some areas and his production came in the earlier parts of the season, but he showed improvement as a route-runner as time went along and demonstrated a willingness to block, which is a key to getting more playing time in Mike Norvell’s system. He’ll look to improve upon last season and it’ll be fun to see how the staff uses his combination of size and speed once he fine-tunes other aspects of being a wide receiver.

  • R-So. Joshua Burrell

Burrell has struggled with lower body injuries throughout his time at FSU, greatly limiting his ability to get reps. He was moved to RB last season as an insurance policy of sorts and is again working with the WR unit this off-season, earning him the “ATH” designation on Florida State’s roster. He’ll need to heal up and remain healthy if he hopes to find any playing time this season.

New faces

  • Jr. Keon Coleman

Perhaps the crown jewel of FSU’s portal haul this cycle, Keon Coleman instantly becomes a candidate for a starting role in 2023. FSU missed on Coleman out of high school but finally got their man this off-season after beating out some serious competition for him.

The 6’4” Coleman arrived in Tallahassee with 65 receptions for 848 yards and eight touchdowns in two season for the Michigan State Spartans, the bulk coming last season when Coleman announced himself to the Big Ten and the nation. He ranked fourth in Big Ten with 15 catches of at least 20 yards (sending a theme here?) and has the rare combination of size, speed, and strength that have NFL scouts drooling. Coleman has made it clear that he intends to parlay an excellent 2023 campaign into an early NFL Draft entry, so enjoy him while you can, folks. He’s special.

  • R-Sr. Winston Wright

I’m including Wright with the new faces, as his FSU debut is happening one year later than expected due to a significant leg injury that cost him all of 2022. Wright has now overcome that major obstacle and is primed to become a major contributor for Florida State.

As a reminder, Wright transferred from West Virginia after appearing in 33 games with 16 starts in three seasons. He caught 129 passes for 1,338 yards and seven touchdowns while also gaining 1,236 yards with two touchdowns on 50 kickoff returns for the Mountaineers. Now, he’ll look to stake his claim in the WR and returner rotations.

  • Fr. Destyn Hill

The long, winding road has finally brought “Destyny” to the Hills of Tallahassee. A strong bond between Destyn Hill, his family, and the FSU coaching staff has resulted in Hill’s arrival after two years of uncertainty.

Though we at TN have preached patience with Hill’s acclimation to the college game, he has habitually impressed his teammates since arriving. If FSU can get meaningful reps and contributions from Hill this season, it would be icing. Said Jordan Travis, “Destyn is a really, really, really special player”. Trey Benson didn’t even need words:

  • Fr. Hykeem Williams

The 6’2” dynamo from Fort Lauderdale was FSU’s first 5-star signee under Mike Norvell. I’d originally predicted that by season’s end, Williams would become a regular starter well on his way to becoming the alpha of the WR room. Then the ‘Noles signed Keon Coleman, so I’m pushing it back a year, as Williams can know learn under Coleman this season.

Williams is too talented to keep off the field, much like the next true freshman WR we’ll discuss. He will fight for reps as he adjusts to college and undoubtedly find some good playing time against some of FSU’s lesser competition. Assuming he progresses well and FSU loses Wilson, Wright, and Coleman at minimum after this season, Williams should be in good position to ascend to a starting role in 2024.

  • Fr. Vandrevius Jacobs

One of the Tribe 23 signees who hasn’t gotten as much attention as he deserves, Jacobs is lightning in a bottle and it’ll be fun to see what the coaches scheme up to get the ball in his hands. Jacobs needs to add weight and strength to his frame to become a more durable option, but you can bet he’ll be on the field in garbage time and against lesser competition. Hold your breath every time he gets the ball, because he’s a threat to house it if given enough space.

  • Fr. Darren “Goldie” Lawrence

Lawrence is the third prep wideout in Tribe 23. He profiles as a solid possession threat while still boasting enough speed and quickness to cause damage across the middle and downfield. The most likely RS candidate of the trio, Lawrence will likely find his reps in garbage time a few times this year.